Dialing up the dairy helps burn more fat

Dialing up the dairy helps burn more fat

New study gives insight into dairy and weight loss link

From press release

ST. PAUL, Minn.—A new clinical trial published in Obesity Research (the journal of North American Association for the Study of Obesity, the Obesity Society) provides more insight into why consuming dairy foods is linked to weight and fat loss. This well-controlled study found that when exercising, adults on a slightly reduced-calorie diet consumed three to four servings of dairy foods daily, their metabolism changed so that their bodies burned more fat than they did when they had one serving of dairy under the same conditions.1

“The design of this study is very strong as all of the subjects consumed both diets at different times and served as their own controls,” noted Edward Melanson, Ph.D., lead investigator and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado. “Our data suggest that when you restrict calories slightly and increase calcium intake by increasing the number of low-fat dairy servings, the amount of fat you burn over 24 hours is increased. However, the precise explanation of how increasing dairy servings impacts fat metabolism and body weight is still unclear.”

The study included overweight men and women, ages 20 to 50, who usually exercised less than three hours a week. Over the course of seven weeks, the subjects participated in four one-week periods in which they consumed either a low-dairy diet or a diet including three to four servings of dairy foods each day. Several times during the study, participants’ rate of fat oxidation (burning) was measured over a 24-hour period in a room calorimeter, an enclosed area in which very specific measurements can be taken. Room calorimeter studies are usually done with only a few subjects, but this current study included 19 men and women, a particularly large group for this kind of study.

This research shows how reducing calories and exercising while consuming adequate dairy foods can help improve the body’s ability to burn fat, which may lead to the loss of body fat as seen in weight loss studies.2, 3, 4 In fact, this is the third study in the last six months to add support to the body of research showing a connection between dairy and weight-management. 1, 4, 5

“If weight loss is the goal, then striving to consume enough dairy products to meet the recommendations for calcium may be beneficial in terms of weight loss. A few other studies have shown that there may also be beneficial effects on cholesterol,” noted Dr. Melanson. “For most people, this would be about two to four servings of low-fat dairy foods each day.”

For more information about the nutritional benefits of dairy foods, visit www.nationaldairycouncil.org. To read about real consumers’ experiences in enjoying dairy while losing weight and for delicious and nutritious recipes and tips about how to get 3-A-Day of Dairy, visit www.3aday.org. or midwestdairy.com.


1. Melanson, E, et al. Effect of low- and high-calcium dairy-based diets on macronutrient oxidation in humans. Obesity Research. 2005; 13(12): 2102-2112.

2. Zemel M.B., et al. Dairy augmentation of total and central fat loss in obese subjects. International Journal of Obesity. January 2005; 29(1):1-7.

3. Zemel M.B. et al. Dietary calcium and dairy products accelerate weight and fat loss during energy restriction in obese adults. Obesity Research. 2004; 12(4): 582-590.

4. Zemel M, et al. Effects of calcium and dairy on body composition and weight loss in African-American adults. Obesity Research. 2005 13(7): 1218-1225.

5. Gunther CW, et al. Fat oxidation and its relation to serum parathyroid hormone in young women enrolled in a 1-y dairy calcium intervention. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2005; 82:1228-34.

From the March 22-28, 2006, issue

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